Social Software

My Five Ws of Twitter in less than 10 minutes (video included)

Twitter – not your father’s Oldsmobile of news sources

Who’s this for

Are you one of those folks whose heard of Twitter & wondered what’s it all about? Or perhaps you once were adventurous enough to visit the site but, for the life of you, just couldn’t get it? I know that’s exactly how I felt. Even their own “What”, “Why”, “How” and slick video just didn’t do it for me. Did I really need to announce to the world that I’m eating soup? Did anyone out there really care? Even my own mother?

So if you are the way I was, then this post’s for you. On the other hand, if you wear your Twitter badge with pride – like I do, then maybe you can read on anyway & share your thoughts on how to help others benefit from this technology.

Why I like Twitter

When I was just a little guy growing up – not that I’m such a giant now, I remember my father leaving for the office before we went off to school and somehow always managing to pull his big brown Oldsmobile 98 into the driveway at exactly 6 PM. He would then sit in his car & listen to the news. Afterwards, he’d join us at the kitchen table and once supper was over, he’d then move onto his special reading corner. He’d sit back in his big comfy black leather chair and ottoman – like the one on Fasier and read the newspaper from cover to cover. (In those days, we received the newspaper in the late afternoon.) He read every square inch of that paper. That & his 6 o’clock news were his sources of information. (He usually fell asleep in front of the TV long before the 11 o’lock news.)

Cartype : Oldsmobile
As he got older, had more time on his hands and more choices, he got into other news sources like CNN, FOX, CBC, or, The Weather Channel. But somethings always remained the same. Regardless of the content, he always had to select a news source first, filter out the content that interested him and sometimes filter out the opinions, views and biases of those sources before he was able to get what he wanted.

Today, Twitter is not my father’s Oldsmobile of news sources. With Twitter, I select my content first and then look to the source. The next time something major is going on – like an election, a natural disaster, or both, just try to keep up with the tweets. All of a sudden, everyone is an Eye Witness news reporter. That means anyone with a connection to the Net, or, capable of text messaging (I’m guessing any mobile phone purchased within the last five years) is a Twittereporter. That’s got to out number any news agency’s sources – unless of course they follow Twitter too. But even if they did. Their coverage still can’t compare, simply because of their value add – read bias. So, saying Twitter is a premium news source may in fact be an understatement.

What‘s Twitter, tweets and micro-blogging

So now’s a good time to check out that slick video I mentioned earlier on Twitter’s home page. But, remember, its not really about soup, or, mowing the lawn.

In addition, Alex Iskold‘s Evolution of Communication: From Email to Twitter and Beyond – ReadWriteWeb gives a great comparison of mail/email, phone/instant messaging, newspapers/blogs and of course Twitter.

How to follow
  1. Content
    1. Go to http://search.twitter.com (No registration required!)
    2. Note the “Trending topics”. The ones prefixed with the hash (#) are tags authors use to shortcut their topic – like keywors.
    3. Aside from current events that would make national, or, international headlines, try searching for something less news worthy. Try a brand like JetBlue, or, product like iPhone. This is all word of mouth and most likely not an official support mechanism. Watch what people are saying about great/poor service, awesome/lemon products…
    4. Did you notice the ? Add that feed to your news reader and you now have you’re very own staff of twitterreporters. If you’re not sure what that means, take a look at my previous post My Five Ws of RSS in less than 10 minutes (video included)
  2. People
    1. Take a look at other people’s profiles and follow their lead. Things like using a real picture, and your actual name go a long way when it comes to building relationships
    2. Go ahead and register a free account at
    3. Based on your search results, you may have come across folks you’d like to follow more specifically. Click on their picture and then the Twitter Follow Me button
    4. Just for fun, check out Dr. Mark Drapeau‘s, Guest Post- The Post-Geekdominant Twitterverse where among other things, he refers to Who has the most Followers on Twitter? (Top 100) |
  3. Tools, tools and more tools
Where‘s to start

If nothing else, I really hope you’re at least intrigued by it all. So here again is where to start:

  1. Search Twitter
  2. Twitter
  3. I’d be honored if you’d like to follow me

When to subscribe
Even if you don’t Tweet – for now, the very least you should be doing is listening for others. So follow your interests, passions – personal & professional. If you’re lucky, they’ll all the same.

Up next

I think there’s a tremendous target audience out there just waiting for us to onboard them into the world of social software and I’ll explain further in my next post. In the meantime, I’ll be searching and tweeting trying to validate my theory. So if you have anything you’d like to share along these lines, please comment, or, Tweet me @stevenmistein.

How about searching for something of interest right now and comment below how it went. Was it as easy as described? Did I oversimplify things? Would you like me to find some other helpful pointers out there? You’ll never know unless you ask.

By the way, I really did love that Olds 98. And that big comfy black leather chair & ottoman, is just a few feet away from me.

Social Software

My Five Ws of RSS in less than 10 minutes (video included)

Here’s a great little video explaining news feeds / RSS and how to get started.

Feedburner 101
Who’s this for
Are you one of those folks whose seen these things on web sites & wondered what they’re for? Or perhaps you know what they stand. Perhaps you once were adventurous enough to click one but, then decided to leave it for another time. If so, then this post’s for you. If not, then maybe you can read on anyway & share your thoughts on how to help others benefit from this technology.

Why I like news feeds
Before we get started on our mission, the first thing I need to due is assume nothing. So if I want you to start following, and hopefully contributing, to this social experiment, I need to help make it easier for me to communicate with you. Of course, email is one way. Personally, for things like this, I really prefer news feeds.

A news feed, by it’s own naming, sounds so fresh and up-to-date. But we all know that today’s news is tomorrow’s history. Now, let’s think how that relates to our email’s inbox. I know folks that receive 150 to 200 emails a day. Maybe you’re just like them. Have you ever fallen behind? Even for a day, or, two. How about when you travel, or, go on vacation? Do the math.

200 emails /day x 5 days disconnected vacation = 1,000 emails

When’s the last time you caught up on those emails? In my own case, and I don’t receive anywhere near that volume, I pretty much read the subject and then decide if I need to use the scroll bar.

The beauty of news feeds, is that no matter when you read the content, it always feels like news. At least it does for me. (Feel free comment.) I think its because its there in front of me when I want it. So if I’m reading a post about a particular subject matter, then I know I can I can follow that feed’s timeline, news history, previous postings, etc., to see how that content evolved. I find it a lot easier to get my head around things when in my Google News Reader, than my Inbox.

What‘s a news feed and how to get started
So, if you’re wondering what’s a news feed, or, RSS (, or even ATOM), then take a look at Common Craft’s Lee LeFever’s perfect little video from his “In Plain English” series.

Where‘s my RSS icons
So if you’re convinced, here’s my RSS icons. If not, I’ll be just as happy if you subscribe via email.

When to subscribe
How about trying to subscribe right now and comment below how it went. Was it as easy as described? Did I oversimplify things? Would you like me to find some other helpful pointers out there regarding news feeds, or, readers? You’ll never know unless you ask.

Up next
I’ll post my Five Ws of Twitter next time. So if you have anything you’d like to share along these terms, please comment, or, Tweet me @stevenmistein.

Do you have any of your own preferences, or, RSS links you’d like to share?